Friday, January 18, 2019

All Things Created Through Him

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“He is before all things, and in
him all things hold together.”
—Colossians 1:17

At the time of the year just passed, we think of Jesus as a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem. We imagine Him in the arms of His mother, Mary, with her adoring husband, Joseph, looking on in wonder. We see the shepherds arrive and hear the chorus of angels proclaim the birth of the Messiah. (Did you know that the word “Christ” is the New Testament Greek word for “Messiah”? So, when we say, “Jesus the Christ,” we are saying, “Jesus the Messiah”?)

But, Jesus is so much more than a helpless baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. He is God the Son. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.

Notice what the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1:15-17:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Do you despair about our elected officials? No matter what you may think of them, they exist in their positions of power only because Jesus allows it. I know, I know, that is an almost unconscionable thought. Nevertheless, that is exactly what this passage of Scripture indicates. And, it is even clearer in the original New Testament Greek language.

Now, we may not have any idea why God would want such ones in power. But, if we believe His written Word—and we who follow Jesus do—then we have no other conclusion than to accept the reality that confronts us.

The Apostle Paul further instructs us in 1 Timothy 2:1-3:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…

Jesus is the One through whom all things are created. And, all the more so, all things hold together. Every aspect of our universe continues to function as it does because of the holding power of Jesus. Every system on this earth continues to function as God intends it because of the holding and conforming power of Jesus. Nothing man does can interfere with God’s divine power over all creation.

As we begin a new day, we can watch the sun rise and glorify God that He causes it to rise each day. We can proceed through the timeline of our day knowing that every second is accountable to God. We can relax into His loving arms knowing that He cares for us in such a loving way that nothing will befall us that is outside of His perfect will for us.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Contend for Me

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“O Lord,… be not silent. Do not be far from
me, O Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense!
Contend for me, my God and Lord.”
—Psalm 35:22-23

When we get into trouble, we often cry out for help. There’s no shame in that. At least there shouldn’t be any shame in asking for someone to help us.

Over the last 18 years, since arthritis has crippled my ability to walk and climb stairs—and particularly in the last 14 months since I had my right leg amputated below the knee—I have occasionally lost my balance and found myself clinging to some object, unable to get upright again. In those moments of teetering on the brink of falling, I call out for help. Fortunately, in most cases, my wife comes swiftly to my aid.

This is not a small thing for her to do. I now weigh in at just a bit less than two-and-a-half times her weight. Thirteen years ago, I weighed more than four-and-a-half times her weight.

So, for my wife to help me, it is more like a tiny baby deer trying to help an elephant. That might make for a great cartoon image. But, in real life, it’s not something that prompts laughter—at least not for the two of us. Fortunately, my wife has learned how to help me without harming her own self.

Do I wish I did not need help? Of course I do. The hardest lesson I have had to learn in the last 18 years is to ask for help without shame. Previously, I was always a very independent person. I was strong, sure-footed, and very mobile, in spite of my extreme obesity. Now, I need help far more often than my fragile ego can tolerate. But, I have no choice.

King David knew what it was to need help. He was a very strong, self-reliant person. After all, he not only protected his sheep from a lion and a bear, he was the one who killed the Philistine giant, Goliath. Nevertheless, David found himself in need of help and learned not to be ashamed to ask for it.

Here are David’s words from Psalm 35:22-23:

O Lord,… be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord.

David is saying, “I can’t fight this battle alone, Lord. I need your help. I need you to rise to the occasion and bring me aid.” That this great warrior would be willing to ask for help when he needed it says a lot about him. And, it says even more about the one David is asking for help.

As we begin another day, we must not be ashamed to ask God for help. We cannot obediently follow God’s will for us without His help. That’s why God gives everyone who believes the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit is there to help us. We should eagerly seek His help whenever we need it. There is no shame in asking the Spirit to contend for us. After all, that’s one of the ways He shows us how very much He loves us.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shining Stars

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Those who are wise will shine like
the brightness of the heavens, and
those who lead many to righteousness,
like the stars for ever and ever.”
—Daniel 12:3

As a child who grew up in the 1950s, whenever I look up at the night sky, I can’t help but think of the tune “When You Wish Upon a Star.” This song written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio was sung by Cliff Edwards in the character of “Jiminy Cricket.” You will likely remember the lyrics:

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are.
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.

If your heart is in your dream,
No request is too extreme.
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.

Fate is kind.
She brings to those to love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing.

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through.
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true.

A sky full of shining stars holds a particular fascination for we earth-bound humans. The more we learn about the vast universe that surrounds our planet, the more we feel the enormity of God’s marvelous creation. The more we sense how far-reaching the universe really is, the more we recognize how blessed we are to have a personal relationship with the God who created all things.

The Christian artist Sandi Patty sings a wonderful song that begins with these words:

Who filled the sky with radiant stars
   to glorify the night.
Who knows the path that leads up
   to the dwelling place of life.
Creator, Master, Holy One,
   Sustainer of my soul—
He reigns in golden splendor:
   Almighty God! Almighty God!

Here is a lovely version of this song:


[Graphic of a play video icon]


The Prophet Daniel makes an interesting statement, as recorded in Daniel 12:3, regarding those who follow the pathway that God has opened up for them:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

We may not think of ourselves as “shining stars.” But, in God’s eyes, we are brilliant beams of His marvelous Light in this sin-darkened world.

As we begin another day, let’s praise God that He continues to mold us into the image of His holiness—a task that we are completely unable to complete on our own. As we respond to the gentle nudgings of the Holy Spirit and strive to become more and more obedient to God’s revealed will, we will, indeed, become the shining stars that He wants us to be.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Glory and Praise

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I will praise God’s name in song and
glorify him with thanksgiving.”
—Psalm 69:30

When we really like someone and hold that one in high esteem, we usually become very quick to share all of the positive things we know about that person. We readily do this because giving honor and praise to this one we hold dear reflects back on us, as well.

God has graciously allowed me to have the opportunity in my life to become friends with a few truly important people. I have never taken advantage of these relationships and consider myself very fortunate to have had the privilege of knowing these individuals. Some of them have contributed greatly to Christ and His Kingdom. Others have allowed the presence of Christ in their minds and hearts to very positively influence their work lives and their personal lives.

When it seems helpful and appropriate, I have spoken well of these individuals, just as I routinely speak well of all the people God has brought into my life. I imagine you have done the very same thing. We tend to enjoy telling others the good things about the people who are important to us.

King David felt the very same way we do. David enjoyed greatly giving honor and praise to someone who he felt was extremely important to his daily life—someone David considered a dearly loved friend and companion. He captures this practice in these words he wrote in Psalm 69:30:

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

David freely praised God’s name and gave glory to Him. David did this because God meant so very much to him on the most intimate and personal level. That’s the way we, who belong to God through His Son Jesus, should feel, as well. The fact that we belong to God is the most important relationship we have. His great importance to us should prompt us to glorify and praise Him for who He is.

At the beginning of this new day, let’s not hesitate to tell others how much God means to us. Let’s freely share all of the wonderful qualities He has shown in our relationship with Him. Let’s recognize that praising Him and giving Him glory also reflects back onto us. His divine Presence in our lives gives us a holy glow that He uses to draw others to Himself. And, that, dear ones, is an amazing and wonderful thing.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, January 14, 2019

His Kindly Look

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on
the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.”
—Psalm 138:6

Have you ever walked through the streets of a large city at dusk and passed groups of homeless people as they began to gather in a place where they will spend the night? Different individuals have quite different reactions when they view these people who are down on their luck.

Whenever I encounter homeless people, I wonder how Jesus would respond to them. In that moment, I feel shame that I often am afraid of them and recognize that would not be how my Lord would feel. He would feel compassion, concern, and love.

Most of us find it very hard to love the unlovely. In many ways, I consider myself “unlovable.” Yet, when faced with people who have descended to a place where they never anticipated they would end up, like many of us, I do not immediately respond with the same compassion, concern, and love that Jesus would feel.

When we meet people at the crossroads of life, one of the things we must learn as Christians is to set aside our preconceived notions, our predispositions, and our prejudices. We need the eyes of our Savior to see these ones—ones He would consider dear—as He would see them.

King David captured this very thought when he wrote these words found in Psalm 138:6:

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.

The very fact that, even from the lofty heights of His eternal home, God sees the lowly and looks kindly on them should motivate us to do the same. We should applaud those whom God has called to specifically work with the downtrodden in this world. At the same time, we should be willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and extend His love to everyone who crosses our pathway, even those individuals who make us uncomfortable.

Let’s begin this new day by asking God to soften our hearts toward those to whom He would extend His lovingkindness and tender mercies. We will represent our Great King in a much better way if we take on His heart and extend His love to everyone no matter what their current circumstances might be.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Star Power: Shining Like Stars

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Do everything without complaining or
arguing, so that you may become
blameless and pure, children of God
without fault in a crooked and
depraved generation, in which you
shine like stars in the universe.”
—Philippians 2:14-15

I am told that in most families with more than one child, the children vie for the attention of their mom and dad, grandmas and grandpas. They do this in a spirit of sibling rivalry or unabashed competition. I am also told that this is quite natural and helps build character into the children.

As an only adopted child, I did not have the “luxury” of experiencing this character-building experience. It could very well be that my awkward socialization stems from this defect. In any case, I know that when we try to transfer this human experience to the spiritual, we run into a bit of trouble.

God does not respond to a group of His children clamoring for His attention. He is everywhere present and has His eye and ear on every single one of His dearly loved children. He knows what we need and what we desire. No amount of discord between children will earn any more of His attention or favor.

The Apostle Paul clearly stated the essence of this in Philippians 2:14-15:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

As we begin a new day, let’s keep in mind that complaining or arguing will buy us absolutely nothing in the Kingdom of God. Rather, devotion to the pathway that God has laid out before us—a pathway that leads to holiness—will bring the kind of star power that lasts for all eternity.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hope from God's Word

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For everything that was written in the
past was written to teach us, so that
through endurance and the encouragement
of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
—Romans 15:4

For many years, the Bible has occupied the place as the number one selling book in all of literature. In fact, a According to the Guinness World Records, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, with over 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

Yet, in spite of this appropriate accolade, the fact remains that many Bibles sit on bookshelves, or on coffee tables, or on nightstands, or in some other place where they are seldom, if ever, opened and read. That’s truly a shame. Why? Because the Bible contains the story of God’s relationship with the humans He has created. And, because the Bible is the greatest message of hope ever provided for the consumption of humankind.

The Apostle Paul specifically declares these encouraging words, found in Romans 15:4:

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Our great hope comes from the reality recorded in God’s written Word, the Bible. We are most foolish if we do not take advantage of what the Bible has to share with us.

Let’s begin this new day by determining to read our Bibles and put into practice the hope we find on its pages. If we do that, we will greatly improve our own lives and greatly improve the world around us.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.